Campaign of lies & falsehoods

Scott Morrison's six weeks of deception

1
Falsehood

Morrison [asked whether he could guarantee his housing policy would not increase house prices]: “No, I don’t believe we’ll see that because this is a balanced policy which is doing at both ends.”1

The truth: a number of property market experts say the government’s policy will increase prices. Real estate group Ray White said the policy (along with Labor’s policy) “means that prices will rise”. Property analysts CoreLogic said: “Allowing first-home buyers to access superannuation for their upfront housing costs on a broad basis will add to demand, and this could increase the cost of housing. This may be good news for homeowners looking to protect their wealth, or sellers in an environment where housing market conditions are starting to soften, but for first-home buyers it could erode some of the benefit of dipping into their super”.2 Superannuation Minister Jane Hume said “it will probably push prices temporarily”.3

1 Sunrise, May 16, 2022

2 Guardian Australia, May 16, 2022

3 ABC news, May 16, 2022

2
Lie

Morrison: “Under our involvement, and with a lot of our driving, the Quad, which is Australia, India, Japan and the United States, has been taken to a leaders’ level dialogue. Now what’s the relevance of that? It was Kevin Rudd who put an end to that at the behest of the Chinese government.”1

The truth: on July 9, 2007, Howard government defence minister Brendan Nelson told the Chinese government in a visit to Beijing that Australia would not be pursuing the Quad, telling the media afterwards: “I have explained the nature of and basis of our trilateral strategic dialogue with Japan and the United States. But I have also reassured China that the so-called quadrilateral dialogue with India is not something that we are pursuing.”2

1 Media conference, May 13, 2022

2 ABC News, July 9, 2007, via Kevin Rudd tweet

3
Falsehood

Morrison [asked about Reid MP Fiona Martin’s confusion of two Asian-Australian candidates]: “Dr Martin has already made statements on that issue today and no that wasn’t the case.” Told Martin’s defence didn’t make sense, Morrison responded: “I’m sorry, I don’t accept that. She’s made that statement and she’s made, she’s made it very clear.”1

The truth: on May 11, 2022, Dr Martin and Labor candidate for Reid Sally Sitou engaged in a radio debate. During the debate, Martin criticised Sitou in relation to another western Sydney seat, Fowler, saying Sitou “couldn’t run in Fowler… Kristina Keneally kicked you out of Fowler too.” Sitou had never sought preselection for Fowler, and it appears Martin confused her with Tu Le, who had sought preselection in Fowler for Labor before Keneally was placed in the seat.

After Sitou sought an apology, Martin offered two explanations, neither of which made sense: “Keneally reportedly declined Reid and went for Fowler” and “[I] was referring to media reports that Ms Sitou was in the running for the state seat of Cabramatta in 2018.”2 Sitou did not stand for preselection in Cabramatta. Although Morrison was correct to say Martin had issued a statement, it was incorrect to claim she had made it “clear” that she had not confused the candidates.

1 Media conference, May 12, 2022

2 Guardian Australia, May 11, 2022

4
Lie

Morrison [about comments describing gender reassignment surgery as “mutilation”]: “What we’re talking about here is gender reversal surgery for young adolescents. And we can’t pretend this is not a very significant, serious issue. It is. It’s complicated. And the issues that have to be considered first and foremost in the welfare of the adolescent child and their parents. We can’t pretend that this type of surgery is some minor procedure. This is a very significant change to a young person’s life.”1

The truth: gender reassignment surgery is not carried out on people under 18 in Australia. After a journalist pointed this out, Morrison disagreed, saying: “No, I’m sorry.” After repeated questions from journalists he said: “This process can begin in adolescence,” and after further questioning admitted “the surgical procedure can’t”.

1 Media conference, May 10, 2022

5
Lie

Morrison [on grants and integrity]: “When it comes to issues of decisions made by the federal government, all the things I’m referring to, those decisions are made at arm’s length by officials.”1

The truth: the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on the sports infrastructure grants program (“sports rorts”) found allocation decisions were made by the minister’s office (later revealed to be in consultation with Morrison’s office), ignoring advice from Sports Australia officials.2 The commuter car park projects program was similarly found by the ANAO to have been wholly decided by then minister Alan Tudge and Morrison, with no projects nominated by officials being approved by the minister.3

6
Falsehood

Morrison [on Labor’s policy to increase wages growth, repeatedly]: “Pretending that you have some magic wand that can raise wages.”1

The truth: as head of the largest employer in the country, the Commonwealth government, the prime minister has a considerable role in the direct setting of wages for hundreds of thousands of public sector employees and contractors. The governor of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe, has repeatedly linked years of wage stagnation to public sector wages caps, including the Commonwealth’s. In 2019 Lowe told a parliamentary committee that “wage caps in the public sector are cementing low wage norms across the country, because the norm is now 2-2.5%, and partly that’s coming from the decisions that are taken by the state governments. So I’m hopeful that at some point the budget positions will improve sufficiently that state governments, or even the federal government, will be able to lift their wage caps”.2

1 Media conference, May 10, 2022, inter alia

2 Economics committee hearing, August 9, 2019

7
Falsehood

Morrison: “Labor has a plan where they want the government to own your home.”1

The truth: under Labor’s “help to buy” policy, and similar to schemes state governments operate, the Commonwealth would have an equity share to a maximum of 40% of a new home or 30% of an existing home, with owners able to buy the government’s equity share at any time, without having to pay rent.

1 Media conference, May 2, 2022

8
Lie

Morrison [about a robodebt royal commission]: “There’ve been numerous inquiries into this matter … The problem has been addressed, but any such inquiry, I imagine, would have to start with the process of income management. Sorry, of income assessment, averaging of incomes which was introduced by the Labor Party. I find it quite hypocritical that a scheme that the Labor Party actually introduced for income averaging in assessing people’s welfare entitlements that they now seek to criticise the government for.”1

The truth: one Senate inquiry has been held into the robodebt scheme. Income averaging was established in the 1990s and used by governments of both sides in relation to the determination of welfare debt. However, robodebt involved the automation of debt raising against people in 2015 based on income averaging, despite repeated warnings that there was no legal authority to raise debts based solely on income averaging, as the Federal Court later found.2

1 Media conference, April 30, 2022

2 Centrelink’s compliance program, Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs, September 2020

9
Lie

Morrison [on Labor’s proposal to use the safeguard mechanism to reduce emissions]: “It’s a sneaky carbon tax which Labor’s putting in place and it’s not just on the coalmining industry, here in Rockhampton, in central Queensland, it’s on, it’s on fuel supplies. It’s on petroleum. It’s on gas. It’s on the transport sector. It’s right across the board.”1

The truth: the safeguard mechanism was established by the Abbott government, which abolished Labor’s carbon pricing scheme to keep large polluters below historic levels of emissions. The Business Council of Australia rejected the “carbon tax” claim, saying “the safeguard mechanism is already in place alongside a suite of other measures to reduce emissions, with careful consultation with industry we believe it is the right incentive to drive investment, deliver more jobs and meet our net-zero commitments”.2

1 Media conference, April 27, 2022

2 Business Council of Australia tweet, April 27, 2022

10
Falsehood

Morrison [on his denial of knowledge of a compensation payment to Rachelle Miller, who accused Alan Tudge of bullying during their relationship]: “If there were any matter that was in the assessment by the Department of Finance that involved the conduct of any minister whatsoever in the granting of that payment, then that matter would have to be raised with me by the Department of Finance through the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Now I can assure you absolutely that no such reference has been made to me. So to imply that would be false, to imply that would be absolutely false, and you would have no basis for doing it because these processes are there for a reason.”1

The truth: correspondence between Miller’s legal team and the Department of Finance frequently mentions both Alan Tudge and Michaelia Cash, for whom Miller also worked.2

1 Media conference, April 17, 2022

2 news.com.au, May 12, 2022

11
Falsehood

Morrison “Our proposals for a Commonwealth integrity commission are set out in 357 pages of legislation.”1 “​​I’ve got real legislation and I’ve got real funding.”2 “The model I support federally, I have set out in very detailed legislation, and that is in stark contrast to a Labor Party that hasn’t even come up with a bill or a legislation and he’s had three years to do it.”3

The truth: no bill for a Commonwealth integrity commission was introduced into Parliament by the government. There are currently no staff allocated for a Commonwealth integrity commission.4

1 Media conference, April 26, 2022

2 Sky News interview, April 22, 2022

3 Media conference, April 16, 2022

4 Budget Paper No. 2, 2022-23

12
Lie

Morrison [asked about Gladys Berejiklian’s text messages calling him a “horrible person”]: “Which she denies, by the way”1

The truth: Berejiklian never denied the messages. She claimed not to remember sending them. Morrison admitted the following day: “So look, I should have said she didn’t recollect them.”2

1 Interview on ABC’s 7.30, April 5, 2022

2 Media conference, April 6, 2022